A protester disrupted U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy’s presentation as he was introducing legislation on Supreme Court ethics Tuesday afternoon, according to a tweet he sent around 1:30 p.m.
Murphy (CT-5) and U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (NY-9) were at the Capitol Tuesday afternoon to introduce a bill highlighting Supreme Court ethics and targeting possible conflicts of interest with an eye toward the fate of health care reform.
Murphy drafted the bill in response to the alleged conflict of interest centering on Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas reportedly attending a political event sponsored by the Koch brothers, a pair of billionaires who have used their wealth to support conservative causes and attack the Obama administration. The Citizens United court decision, on which the two justices ruled, allowed unrestricted corporate spending in political campaigns.
"If I were to ask someone on a Main Street in Connecticut if they would be comfortable with a Supreme Court justice accepting a plane ticket and all expenses paid at a fancy hotel courtesy of a special interest, I know what their answer would be. No way. Yet, Justices Scalia and Thomas did just that — while one of the Koch brothers' top priorities was pending before the highest court in the land. It is outrageous, and demands that Congress take action," Murphy said in a statement earlier this week.
Murphy said he drafted the bill to bring more sunlight and transparency to the country’s highest court and help restore public trust.
According to Murphy, the bill would:
- apply the Judicial Conference's Code of Conduct, which applies to all other federal judges, to Supreme Court justices. This would allow the public to access more timely and detailed information when an outside group wants to have a justice participate in a conference, such as the funders of the conference;
- require the justices to publicly disclose their reasoning behind a recusal when they withdraw from a case;
- require the Court to develop a process for parties to a case before the Court to request a decision from the Court, or a panel of the Court, regarding the potential conflict of interest of a particular Justice.
"If this is the tip of the iceberg, with justices conflicted on several fronts, and refusing to disclose their conflicts or recuse themselves from cases, we've got to stop this immediately. Right now, we have no clue. With a potential Supreme Court fight on the new health insurance law looming, we need to know the Supreme Court is immune to outside influence," Murphy said.